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Bani-naim


Bani Naim – Center of Local Culture:  

The village of Bani Naim lies south of Bethlehem and 8 km west of Hebron, surrounded by spectacular high desert landscapes.  Here and among the hills and neighboring villages the eye is drawn to unexpected variations in landscape, astonishing vistas from mountain trails, and the colors of meadow and grape and wheat fields, interspersed with the familiar shapes and features of the traditional architecture of rural Palestine.  Bani Naim and the villages of this cultural center and its region are blessed  with shrines, mosques,  synagogues, villas, and other remains left by the people, their leaders and prophets, who lived here earlier - Canaanite, Hebrew, Roman, Christian, and Muslim.  These vary in size and antiquity, from the excavated remains of the early settlement of Hebron (Tel Rumeida) and the great Ibrahimi Mosque, burial site of Abraham and his family, sacred to Muslims, Jews and Christians, to the humble shrine to Abraham''s nephew Lut (Lot) in the center of Bani Naim.

Those passing through these villages will find ample signs of the activities of residents today in the museums and women''s associations which display traditional embroidery, works of local women artists, and carpets still made here for sale in international markets.  The environmental museum in Bani Naim has taken as its mission the protection of wildlife and exhibition of endangered species of the animals and birds you might see on your walks. 

Hebron, one of Palestine''s largest cities and an important economic center, proudly displays not only its historic buildings but sophisticated modern factories that produce food products and textiles.  This Center of Local Culture will introduce this region, its history and people through hiking trails, horseback riding, dinner in a Bedouin tent, conversations with women from local associations, workshops where you will  learn about-- and perhaps participate in--traditional songs and dances. 

Sights, treks and activities:  

  • The Tomb of Abraham and the Shrine of Lot
  • Hike the "al-Qasrain", a scenic mountain trail
  • Modern factories producing dairy products and keffiyehs
  • Traditional workplaces producing traditional carpets and glass
  • Learn to dance the dabka
  •  A 4th century synagogue and a Russian church
  • Swim in the Dead Sea and ride a horse in Bani Naim
  • Wander the paths of a beautiful and bounteous landscape.

Meals and accommodations: 

Guests will be hosted in home-stays, guest houses or a Bedouin tent.  Restaurants and women’s associations will serve three daily meals and snacks and will feature traditional dishes such as Mousakhan, Maqlooba, Felafel and Hommus.

Workshops and cultural activities: 

Guests may be offered activities and participatory evening folkloric performances and dances.   Other workshops and activities can be arranged. 

Local guides:  

young men and women of the Bani Naim CLC have been trained in guiding tours.  They have good language skills and they know their areas.

Socializing and discussions with residents:  

a CLC requirement is that it provide multiple opportunities for visitors to interact with the people of the villages.  The activities, workshops, home-stays, use of local guides – all are designed to give tourists time and space to talk with their hosts and the residents of the villages.  In fact, the youth have been encouraged to give visitors a “cultural-political touristic experience”.  In Bani Naim there is a gallery of modern art by the woman artist Yasmin Hadaqa and there are traditional embroidery-making workshops, both places where visitors may talk with village residents about their lives in Palestine.  After-dinner entertainments and performances will take place in informal settings which will encourage interactions between visitors and residents.

Role of the local community:  

an important component in any CLC is the involvement of the people who live there – women, men, youth, the elderly.  Men and women of the villages serve together in equal numbers on the Center’s Committee.  The older residents are the story-tellers who pass on the old stories and myths they inherited from their ancestors.  Bani Naim’s CLC encompasses several women’s organizations and youth groups who play prominent parts in providing services.   

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